Responding to Environmental Change

societal challenges

On 19 March 2015, the Responding to Environmental Change event in London brought together emerging environmental scientists (PhD students and early career researchers) with leaders from business, policy and academia to explore the challenges posed by environmental change and opportunities to work in collaboration to respond to these.

Communities today find themselves and the environments they live in under increasing pressure. This is driven by growing populations, urban expansion and improving living standards that place increasing stress on natural resources. Added to this is the rising threat from environmental hazards and environmental change.

Research, development and innovation within the environmental sciences and beyond offers the opportunity to manage these pressures and risks, exploring how we can live sustainably with environmental change, whatever its drivers.

Discussion at the event covered three key societal challenges and their implications for business and policy. A summary of these talks has been captured by students attending the event and can be found below.

The event was organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP),  and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).

Benefiting from natural resources

Natural resources are fundamental for wellbeing, economic growth and sustaining life. Greater demand for food, water and energy requires better management and use to reduce stress on natural systems and ensure a sustainable future.

Read more in a report by Jonathan Bosch, a first year SSCP PhD student researching transitions to low-carbon energy systems.

Resilience to environmental hazards

Environmental hazards are becoming more frequent and severe, with potentially serious impacts on people, supply chains and infrastructure globally. Advancing our knowledge and understanding of these hazards, and the processes involved, will allow us to better predict, plan for and manage the risks in order to increase resilience to these changes.

Read more in the report by Malcom Graham, a first year SSCP PhD student researching saline intrusion in coastal aquifers.

Managing environmental change

In addition to natural variability, human activities are causing rapid, large-scale climate and environmental change. Understanding how these processes work as a whole Earth system can improve our understanding of the impacts of these changes and inform responsible management of the environment.

Read more in a report by Rebecca Emerton, a first year SCENARIO PhD student researching approaches to global forecasting of flood risk.

 The Road to Paris 2015 -  COP 21

Matthew Bell, Chief Executive at the Committee on Climate Change, concluded the event with a talk on the road to Paris and the issues that could be faced in the climate negotiations.

Read more in a report by Samantha Buzzard, a third year NERC PhD student at Reading investigating the role of surface melt in the retreat and disintegration of Antarctic ice shelves.